The term hidden champions refer to smaller companies that bring in high revenue but remain relatively anonymous. In many cases, the companies remain hidden in secrecy intentionally because it comes with many benefits to them and their clients. 

This article is going to delve into and explain the many pros of using SMEs (small to medium enterprises) in the software development field and in general as well.

A Better Definition

The definition and criteria of Hidden champions were pioneered by Hermann Simon. He states that to fall into the category a business must:

  • Not be broadly known by the public
  • Make a revenue less than $5 billion
  • Be first, second or third in the global market, or first on the company's continent, determined by market share

The title is definitely well deserved for the companies that meet all of these metrics. The hidden champions studied by Hermann Simon were supplying niche fields and selling less conspicuous products or services, which may explain their lack of public exposure.

The niche market of choice may also explain why demand may remain high, and did so for these companies even during the pandemic. These forms of businesses also have the option to expand, but deliberately choose not to. 

In this way, they keep an exceptionally high-quality workforce that maintains an intimate and committed relationship with their clientele. They also have a slower rate of growth in terms of revenue but have impressive staying power. They set themselves apart by aiming to acquire clients globally even at the inception of the business. 

Some Examples For Context

Sometimes you need to look at a bit of proof before you buy into a concept. We thought we’d use ourselves as an example to illustrate just how feasible it can be to book prestigious clients. With just over 50 team members here at Ready4s, we rightly consider ourselves part of the SME group. 

However, to date, we have served some of the largest companies in certain countries and even certain continents. 

For instance, we have developed applications for the largest company in Europe. These apps support laboratory diagnostics and advanced machines used in the medical research field. Furthermore, we have provided application solutions to the largest company in United Kingdom. This application provides comprehensive due diligence reports for that particular company. 

So what exactly made these bigger corporations choose us over some well-known software development company? Let’s explore some common reasons why hidden champions have become the popular choice.

They attract and retain the best talent

These businesses hire people that are completely aligned with the mission they aim to accomplish. The employees are specialists/experts in their field and usually feel fulfilled when doing the work they do. Such a company also sees a very low employee turnover rate.

The employees feel motivated and are provided with tasks that genuinely thrill and interest them. This can lead to high productivity levels and well-flowing teamwork. This kind of attention and care given to the workforce can greatly improve the results the clients will get. The workforce receives adequate credit and compensation. The final product provided will often exceed the client’s expectations as the team takes pride in their creation.

Niche expertise

Smaller companies will not aim to be a jack of all trades. Usually, when an expansion takes place, new departments will arise, almost diluting the expertise that the business offers. With hidden champions, they specialise in a certain sometimes microscopic niche that fills a demand exceptionally well. They will offer few products and services, but they will be reliable and of high quality.

As a result, they can offer a high level of customization to each client. Being able to provide a tailor-made version of the product to each client is a luxury only an expert with years of experience can afford. Larger corporations or investors have also come to know this.

One-on-One attention

Being able to speak directly with a member of the team is a huge benefit in the eyes of a client. The availability to talk and mull things over directly can lead to deeper forged connections between creators and clients. 

Smaller companies can also choose who will liaise with the client. This designation can allow that employee to dedicate as many hours as needed to communicate with the client, and they can be recognized as genuine working hours! This added attention given to clients gives SMEs a leg up on larger corporations.

Less Red Tape

Larger companies will have a protocol and procedure for any activity that takes place in the office. These regulations can greatly slow down productivity. Many things will need to be approved before work can even commence on a given project. The consistency is necessary but quite honestly burdensome.

Smaller companies can allow for a lot more nuance in any process. Things can change according to who the client is and how large the project is. Regular clients can also be treated differently as there will be a greater level of trust and comfort. Obviously, the main benefit is the results come much faster.

A final note 

To label a business a ‘hidden champion’ is a very lofty compliment. These are one in a million companies that fit hefty criteria. However, it still proves that you don’t need to be a household company name to bring in the big corporations. Though, some may argue it’s more difficult to attain the reputation of being a hidden champion!

Here at Ready4s, we pride ourselves on our accomplishments and the hard work that got us to our goals. We guarantee all of our clients quality, speed, flexibility, and engagement from our team. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can view our portfolio here.